Outreach suggestions for the International Year of Soils 2015

The IYS aims to raise awareness among civil society and decision makers and educate the public about the crucial role soil plays in food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystem services, poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

The year's specific objectives include supporting effective policies and actions for the sustainable management and protection of soil resources; promoting investment in sustainable soil management activities; and advocating for rapid capacity enhancement for soil information collection and monitoring, among others.

This year is an unprecedented opportunity for the soil community and organizations around the world to engage the public in a conversation about the vital role that soils play in our daily lives.

You don't need to be a large organization or have a big budget to engage in outreach activities.  Strategies are as varied as the audiences you target and the messages you want to communicate.  Activities can range from large publicity campaigns to a talk at a local elementary school or a poster in a storefront window.  

Below are just a few ideas to get you thinking about appropriate outreach alternatives for your organization.


  • Create networks
    Give structure to your contact lists. Build a database of consultants you have worked with, organizations that have similar goals to yours, or journalists who have written about you, and put them all on regular mailing lists.

  • Formalize relationships 
    Work with what you have already. Consolidate relations with people or organizations with which you have successfully collaborated by making your relationship more official.  Begin an exchange programme, collaborate on an annual event, identify an ongoing project that you can cooperate on.

  • Forge new partnerships
    Approach an organization with which you have never worked with before and explore means of interacting.  Discuss how you can help them reach their goals and how they can help you reach yours.

  • Publicise your organization's mission
    The mission and activities of even the most well known organizations are not always clear to the general public.  Plan events that provide an opportunity to explain the work of your organization and how it contributes to the soil community. Publish a newsletter that helps people understand what you do and why.

Target audiences

An important goal of the IYS is to encourage those working outside soil-related sectors to integrate the question of soils into their ongoing discussions.  

  • Policy makers
    Soils shouldn't be discussed in isolation.  The links between soils and other areas must be underlined. Consider reaching out to policy workers in other areas including environmental, developmental, sociological, cultural and economic fields.
  • Educators
    Take a look at the curricula of the primary, secondary and tertiary schools around you.  Do they incorporate the study of soils, biodiversity and sustainable agriculture into their teaching?  Offer to match your technical expertise with their experience in teaching to create a class or programme covering soil issues.

  • Media
    Take the time to study your local media.  How do they get their information? What formats do they prefer?  How long is the typical article or video? Make it easy for media to pick up the information and messages you want to communicate. Don't wait for them to come to you.  Pitch ideas to them when you have something to communicate.

  • Children/youth
    Nothing stays with you like things you learn as a child.  Even the briefest exposure to a subject can lead to a lifelong sense of connection.  Think of where children go and what they like to do.  These are good places to plan soil-related activities - a local farm, a park, a zoo.

  • Businesses
    Since soils directly or indirectly affect every part of our lives from food to the quality and availability of water to the air we breathe, our clothes and shelter, it is not difficult to trace a line between almost any business and soil.  Businesses are interested in promoting a greener profile.  Keep them updated on issues that concern them. Encourage them to integrate the topic of soil into their publicity or philanthropic work.